Where would we be without the inventions of the great men of the world? Apple - Steve Jobs, the telephone - Alexander Graham Bell, the atomic bomb - Albert Einstein, the gun - Richard Gatling. Nowhere - right? But what about those more practical inventions, the ones that are necessity - those that you use unthinkingly every day?
Below are inventions by women that you could not live without - whether for sanity or vanity, everything below - from the dishwasher to the hairbrush, was invented by women for practicality and advantageous purposes. They go largely unrecognized now, because they are mostly objects or entities we take for granted, but SWAAY has decided to pause amidst the roaring tide of products and inventions that we could live without in 2017, to languish in the glory of those that we really couldn't survive without.
The Car Heater
Margaret Wilcox is the woman you have to thank for 1. de-fogging your windows and 2. keeping you toasty in sub-0 temperatures in your car. She was patented for the car radiator back in 1893 and how many lives/chilly journeys has she saved since? Millions. Try picture a car journey in December through the mountains, without a heater, cold right? All hail Wilcox for our fingers and toes getting through the chillier of seasons.
Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr became a trailblazer in the field of wireless communications when she moved to the U.S.
Working to combat Nazi transmissions during WWII, her and co-inventor George Anthiel warped radio frequencies to break difficult code. The invention would go on to prove extremely useful during the Cuban Missile Crisis and their work has now translated into tech such as wifi and bluetooth. She was the first female to receive the 'oscar' of inventor awards - the BULBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Bronze Award back in 1977.
The Computer Algorithm
Born Ada Gordon, but known as Ada Lovelace - child of the renowned poet Lord Byron and math whiz Annabella Milbanke, was 'the first computer programmer' to produce algorithms. Lovelace came across Charles Babbage, philosopher, mathematician and mechanical engineer, in her pursuit of a career in mathematics, and the pair would go on to become great friends. Babbage called Lovelace 'The Enchantress of Science', and indeed, she would be the first of all those working with him to produce the goods for his vision of the 'analytical engine', or computer. Her articles rendered the most sense and logic towards this dream machine and were the first published. The list of consequences that emerged from Lovelace's work is very literally endless. And yet it's Babbage's name that most will regognize - why? It was a recurring problem at the time and an analysis of a lot of female inventors will find that many hid in the shadows of the man or guardian or male co-inventor in their life, only to emerge now, in the whits of feminism for the praise and inspirational achievements.
Florence Parpart, a historical mystery, was indeed the inventor of the modern 'fridge'. In 1914, she won a second patent for the modern refrigerator. Apart was listed as a housewife in the U.S census for most of her life, although of course those few historical records pertaining to her inventions would have you believe otherwise. The thoughts of not having a fridge are baffling - what would happen to milk? How would you keep white wine or beer cold? How would one make ice? Where would you store chicken? How would you keep your brie from melting? Absurd.
Lyda Newman may not be the OG inventor of the hairbrush - she is however responsible for how it looks and feels today. This African-American introduced the synthetic bristles to the brush and got a patent for this invention back in 1898. Before Lyda, people were using Boar's hair to brush their locks. Lyda's bristles as we know them today collect the impurities in your hair - broken strands etc. and allow for easy removal after you've finished. They're also good for styling up-dos, backcombing, fluffing, coiffing and all other things one does with one's modern hairbrush.
Can you even imagine how many hours of your life you would spend washing your dirty dishes had Josephine Cochrane not invented the dishwasher back in 1886 while elbow deep in a tub of suds? It's unfathomable. Cochrane had been left in severe debt by husband William when inspiration struck after one of her servants broke some of her precious china. The industrial revolution had ended about 40 years previously and Cochrane had seen the fruits of this push for new machinations and inventions and thought why isn't there a machine to wash my dishes. She received her first patent in 1886 and sold all of her dishwashers by herself. A true businesswoman, and lifesaver.
The Chocolate Chip Cookie
Okay, so perhaps you could live without chocolate chip cookies. Perhaps you don't have a sweet-tooth. However, it is my firm belief that Ruth Graves Wakefield changed the world indelibly with her discovery back in 1930. Having served butterscotch nut cookies at her Toll House Inn, MA, she looked for something that would further please her customers, and added that perfect chip of sheer delight in the form of Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate. Chocolate and cookies. What an intriguing combination, and one I will forever be indebted to Wakefield for.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.